China's Utopian cities
The Ecotopia 2121 project explores the prosperous super-green futures of 100 cities worldwide. This month, we display a vision of future Lanzhou, China.
Lanzhou nowadays is a city of four million set among a hundred mountains near the Yellow River. Lanzhou is in the midst of expansion; transforming into a megacity on the scale of Beijing or Shanghai. The plan is expressed in a clumsy government logo: "Rebuild Lanzhou: Strong Industrial City, Ecological Green City, Many Lakes City, Modern New City". The residents haven’t got any say in the matter so it’s been a nice easy sell -- especially since Lanzhou is currently over-industrialized and very polluted, so a nod to any kind of Green doesn’t go amiss.
However, the manner by which Lanzhou is mega-sizing is grossly anti-ecological. Hundreds of mountains around the city are being blown-up or bulldozed and their rocky remains used to fill in the valleys. Some geologists have expressed their worries over this enterprise; pointing to risks of landslides, sinkholes, floods, and massive pollution of both the water and land.
In this scenario I've painted here, by the mid-21st Century, it is probable there will be massive pollution, and huge land collapses, and the Yellow River’s very course may also change. Parts of Lanzhou may suffer near total destruction.
Many Chinese will be forced to leave because they will have no homes and no jobs, only a pock-marked city. By 2121 though, things may have settled down and the locals will realise that anymore earthworks are suicidal endeavours. Some mountains will hopefully have survived--though carved into bizarre shapes--and maybe they will be stable enough to live upon.
With the Chinese leaving for other places, the Qiang people return, from all around China, and they set about rebuilding their homes and planting buckwheat. They also replace the sacred white stones to honor the mountains that live on.